Campus Life

UWF hospitality students prepare Thanksgiving meal for foster care facility

University of West Florida (UWF) hospitality students received hands-on experience and gave back to the community by serving Thanksgiving dinner to 30 children and 10 adults at the Children in Crisis foster care facility in Fort Walton Beach on Friday, Nov. 16.

In order to assess students in her Management of Food and Beverages Operations course at the UWF Fort Walton Beach campus, Hospitality, Recreation and Resort Management instructor Marcia Dove wanted them to cook, serve and clear an actual dinner function with guests for an organization of their choice. The students decided to collaborate with Children in Crisis to organize a feast for the staff and children, some of whom had never had a Thanksgiving meal.

This event was the brainchild of the students,” Dove said. “I was thoroughly impressed with the way they rallied together and accomplished all of their objectives. They went above and beyond by really getting into the project and caring for the children they served.”

The students were assigned jobs ranging from event planning, menu creation, vendor selection, cooking, serving and more. The event featured the meal, a turkey carving demonstration, arts and crafts projects, and a performance of “Lean on Me” by the students and children.

Ken Hair, the Executive Director of Children in Crisis, said the meal meant the world to the children, especially those who were experiencing Thanksgiving for the first time.

“Our children come from such terrible situations that some have never had enough structure to have a Thanksgiving meal,” he said. “That first-time experience lights up their life.”

Children in Crisis is a non-profit organization that provides homes and establishes hope for the abused, neglected and abandoned children of Okaloosa, Walton, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties. For additional information, visit